Every morning Julien Duxin wakes up curious, trying to find the answer to a scientific question — an answer that could help prevent diseases such as cancer.
The 2004 Missouri State graduate is currently a post-doctoral fellow in The Walter Lab at Harvard Medical School, which is named for his supervisor, Dr. Johannes Walter.
The question he is trying to answer is related to the mechanism of replication-coupled repair of specific DNA lesions.
Didn’t catch that, exactly? Here’s his explanation: “Before cells divide they need to successfully replicate their DNA so the genetic information can be transmitted from one cell to the other. Errors that occur during this process can be detrimental and can induce a variety of diseases, including cancer.”
Duxin said his work is so interesting it sometimes feels like he’s “playing.”
“It’s like keeping the inner child entertained every day. Although very exciting at times, it can be extremely frustrating because frequently the answer I come up with is negative or inconclusive,” Duxin said. “However, the simple thought of finding the answer one day is enough to keep me going every morning with the same excitement.”
Duxin, who lives in Boston with his wife, Maria Fernanda Fierro, started his chemistry career at Missouri State. He says the department gave him a positive experience, and constant support from the faculty pushed him forward.
However, academics weren’t the only thing that brought him to MSU. He came from Montevideo, Uruguay, on a scholarship to play golf for the Bears: “The USA is one of the few countries in the world where you can compete in a sport while getting a college education.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree, he was accepted into two respected biochemistry programs: Washington University and Harvard Medical School.
Duxin has a love of travel, and — after completing his doctorate degree and getting married — he took six months off to travel in Asia and South America before starting his post-doc program.
“After completing my post-doctorate at Harvard, I wish to stay in academia and run my own laboratory where I will apply the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. I intend to stay in the field of genomic stability to understand the basic mechanisms by which cells faithfully transmit our genetic information.”
So diseases, take note: Julien Duxin wakes up thinking about how to beat you. His dedication could lead to a healthier world for all of us.